116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Food & Drink / Recipes
Sweet & Spicy: Try these Persimmon Pudding and Persimmon Tea Cake recipes
When ripe, this cool weather fruit brightens almost any recipe
The beauty of a persimmon is undeniable. Their gorgeous deep shades of orange shine in the gray time of fall to winter.
Imagine discovering these jewels on a woodland hike or seeing them in your backyard. Brilliant fruit clinging to bare branches, some lying amid the fallen leaves.
Persimmons are native to Japan and they grow wild in the southeastern parts of the United States. Cultivars are grown and planted throughout much of the United States, including here in Iowa. In my research I learned that the wood of a persimmon tree is highly prized for making golf clubs.
I remember the small, wild persimmons that grew in our woods. And I remember I didn’t much care for them and have carried that avoidance all these years.
The reason for my dislike is that wild persimmons eaten too soon are extremely tannic. They’re not harmful, they’re just unpleasantly puckery. Some people describe it as “cottonmouth.” While I enjoy green plums or even slightly crunchy peaches, an unripe persimmon is inedible.
Because of their persistent beauty and because I have friends who love persimmons, I decided to give them another try. What I discovered is that the flavors are soft and delicate, not at all strong as the fruit’s bold colors might suggest.
The two types of persimmons we see at the grocery store are Hachiya and Fuyu. The bright orange Fuyu is short and squat. The good news is that Fuyus can be eaten at any stage without fear of puckering. My friends slice and eat them like apples. These can be added to a green salad where you might have used pears or apples.
The darker orange Hachiya, on the other hand, does need to be well ripened. It is large and slightly heart-shaped. The secret is choosing a fruit that’s soft and full like a water balloon, one that is so ripe you think it’s gone bad. These are best for baking.
Researching ways to cook with persimmons, I landed on a couple great recipes. The baked persimmon pudding has been a standout favorite with friends. As one described, it’s rather like pie filling without the crust. It’s good eaten cold or warm and is especially nice with a touch of whipped cream. The persimmon tea bread, chunky with dates and walnuts, has been perfect for these late autumn days with a cup of coffee or milky tea.
If you also have avoided persimmons, now’s the time to give them a try.
When selecting Hachiya persimmons, conventional fruit-picking wisdom does not apply. Look for fruit you’d otherwise suspect is overripe. A perfect Hachiya will be full and soft like a water balloon about to burst. If all the persimmons are not yet ripe, store them in a paper bag with an apple and they will ripen in a few days.
2 eggs, separated
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups persimmon pulp from native persimmons or ripe Hachiyas
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup half-and-half
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a souffle dish or a gratin dish.
Beat the egg yolks, sugar and persimmon pulp together in a bowl then stir in the melted butter, half-and-half and buttermilk. In a second bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add the dry ingredients to the wet persimmon mixture, stirring slowly with a whisk to combine them well.
Whisk the egg whites until they are firm but not dry. Fold them into the batter and then put everything into the prepared dish. Bake until the pudding has risen and is firm, about 45 minutes. The center will fall, but that’s fine. Serve warm or at room temperature with cream – softly whipped cream or poured heavy cream.
Source: Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison
Persimmon Tea Cake
This cake is dense, dark, warm and rich from the abundant persimmon puree, raisins and chewy dates. Notice the recipe calls for adding baking soda to the persimmon puree. This will neutralize persimmons’ natural enzyme activity and prevent cake failure.
2 large dead-ripe Hachiya persimmons, enough for 1 cup puree
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dates, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch springform pan.
Open the persimmons lengthwise, pick out any seeds, then scrape the pulp into a measuring cup. Puree, measure out 1 cup and stir in the baking soda.
Combine the flour, salt and spices in a small bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar until smooth, then beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla and the persimmon puree. Add the flour mixture, then fold in the walnuts, lemon zest, raisins and dates.
Scrape the batter into the pan and put it in the middle of the oven. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the rim.
Source: Local Flavors by Deborah Madison